Family hit by fire was tight knit

awomack@macon.comJune 14, 2013 

Rushed to the hospital, 15-year-old Scott Caffee didn’t know whether his family members had escaped the fire.

Early Thursday morning, Caffee escaped the burning duplex at 504 Carmen Place along with his older brother and stepfather.

He was in his hospital room at The Children’s Hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon when his grandmother broke the news. His math team coach, Kimberlyn Carter was nearby.

“He said, ‘I knew that something was wrong with my mom ... I didn’t see my mom,’” Carter said.

The boy’s mother, Jennifer Caffee, died in the blaze along with her three daughters: 13-year-old Elizabeth Caffee, 10-year-old Wendy Chapman and 5-year-old Holly Tucker.

It took firefighters several hours to pull them all from the super-heated brick building located on the corner of San Carlos Drive in Macon’s Lynmore Estates.

Scott Caffee suffered smoke inhalation and was listed in good condition Friday.

His breathing has been labored and he’s using extra oxygen a good bit, Carter said.

“He still feels like he smells smoke,” Carter said.

It’s still in his system.

People who have known the Caffee family for years say the family wasn’t just tight knit.

“Where you saw one, you saw the others. They were always together,” said Bonny Adams, the secretary at Countryside Baptist Church, where the family has attended for more than a dozen years.

The children were there anytime the church doors were open. The church is located on Carmen Place, just a short walk from the family’s home.

Jennifer Caffee attended church when she could, but she spent a lot of her time caring for Wendy, who suffered from cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair. Wendy attended on special occasions, Adams said.

Carter met the family about six years ago when she was teaching Scott’s older brother Brandon’s fourth-grade class at Bruce Elementary.

She remembers Elizabeth stopping by to let her know that she was “going to be sure that Brandon was going to have a good day.”

In time, Carter met the other children.

While teaching at Bruce, she helped Elizabeth become tested for the gifted program. She also helped Wendy enroll at Rosa Taylor Elementary.

After leaving the school last year to become the school system’s director of Strategic Partnerships and Director of the Welcome Center, she helped enroll Holly in school.

Jennifer Caffee was the kind of mother who believed in meeting her children’s teachers and liked to be the class mom.

Living in a poor area of Macon, the family didn’t have a lot.

When it came time for a school cookout or picnic, Caffee would bring what she could, Carter said.

The children all showed respect, care and concern for other people, she said.

“Jennifer was such an amazingly sweet and caring mother,” Carter said. “She instilled that type of sweet, caring and compassion, big-hearted love in all of her children.”

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service